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Monday, August 8, 2022

To the Assistant Director, questions about the Baldwin shoot are directed

When Alec Baldwin shot the cameraman and the director of a Western picture being made in New Mexico, the screenplay supervisor on the set called 911 in a panicked request for aid, which was answered by the police.

When Mamie Mitchell called 911, she informed the dispatcher, “We’ve had two individuals inadvertently shot on a movie set.” Then Ms. Mitchell singled out the film’s assistant director, explaining how it was his job to ensure that such blunders never happened again on the set of the picture. When Ms. Mitchell received the emergency call, she explained that “he’s required to check the firearms.”

Following the shooting on Thursday, which resulted in the death of 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, investigators from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office started investigating the role played by the assistant director, Dave Halls, and others on the set in the event. According to court filings, they discovered that Mr. Baldwin was informed by Mr. Halls, who gave him the pistol, that it was a “cold gun.” On a film set, a cold gun is often referred to as a gun that has been emptied.

Investigators have not filed charges against anybody or assigned responsibility to any of the participants in the event. They have also declined to say what kind of missile was used to murder Ms. Hutchins.

Mr. Halls, a veteran of the business who has worked on films such as “Fargo” and “The Matrix Reloaded,” has been the target of several complaints from different film professionals for many years, particularly with the problem of set safety. There are growing concerns about the New Mexico production, which was marred by at least two unintentional gun discharges only days before the deadly shooting. The allegations, which mostly concern his disregard for safety rules and on-set conduct, are generating speculation about the production.

Dave Halls is a character that “doesn’t always follow the rules,” according to Antonia Bogdanovich, a filmmaker who collaborated with Mr. Halls on the crime thriller “Phantom Halo.” On the set, Ms. Bogdanovich detailed how tempers had risen when Mr. Halls, who worked as an assistant director on the picture, put pressure on the crew to go beyond the parameters of the scheduled schedule.

Mr. Halls did not reply to repeated efforts to contact him for comment.

A similar set of issues bedevilled the set of “Rust,” the Western that was upended by the shooting, when six camera crew members walked out over unpaid wages and working conditions only hours before the fatal tragedy occurred. Upon learning of the labour unrest and the fact that, according to the affidavit, Mr. Halls had passed a pistol to Mr. Baldwin, which culminated in the actor fatally shooting Ms. Hutchins, Ms. Bogdanovich expressed her anxiety.

“I’m a film director, and from what I’ve seen, there are multiple stages that must be completed before actors are given a pistol,” Ms. Bogdanovich said. In order to determine whether or not he would inform an actor that it is a cold gun, Dave Halls needs to double-check his assumptions. He needed to open up the chamber and do a thorough inspection.”

According to Detective Joel Cano’s statement, Mr. Halls had taken one of three firearms that had been placed up by the film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, and taken it to himself. During a practise, Mr. Halls delivered one of the pistols to Mr. Baldwin. The firearms were on a cart that had been put outside a wooden building due of Covid-19 regulations, according to the investigator. She did not reply to calls for comment from The Associated Press.

A look into how weapons are intended to be handled on film sets has been revealed as a result of the revelations. Several professional armourers, who are experts in the handling of weapons, stated that it is their responsibility to procure firearms and ensure that they are safe to use, while assistant directors are responsible for inspecting the firearms and ensuring that they are not loaded; typically, it is the armourer who then hands the firearm to an actor or actress.

Larry Zanoff, an expert in the use of firearms on film sets who worked as an armourer on the set of “Django Unchained,” explained that, according to industry standards, the first assistant director is the lead safety person on set and is responsible for inspecting each gun to ensure that it is unloaded and safe to be used before it is used.

Working with Mr. Halls as first assistant camera on a film shoot earlier this year, Lisa Long said she expressed her dissatisfaction to her superiors on a number of occasions about what she perceived to be a lack of proper safety meetings, as well as her concerns about potential breaches of Covid-19 protocols.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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